Canada: Jurisdictional Summary- Alberta

Last Updated: December 19 2014
Practice Guide by Blaney McMurtry LLP


All references are to the Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000 c E-9, unless noted otherwise.

HOURS OF WORK Hours of work confined within 12 consecutive hours in one day 16(1) unless:
  1. accident occurs, urgent work is necessary to plant or machinery or other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances
  2. Director issues permit authorizing extended hours of work

If hours of work to be extended, must be increased only to extent necessary "to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of a business, undertaking or other activity":16(2)

Every employer must notify employees of time work starts and ends by posting notices visible to employees or by other reasonable method : 17(1). Employer must not require employee to change from one shift to another without at least 24 hours' written notice and 8 hours of rest between shifts: 17(2)

EATING PERIODS N/A (See Rest Period Below)
REST PERIODS 30 minutes of rest, paid or unpaid, during each shift in excess of 5 consecutive hours of work: 18 unless:
  1. accident occurs, urgent work is necessary or other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances occur
  2. different rest provisions agreed to pursuant to collective agreement, or
  3. it is not reasonable for employee to take a rest period.

At least 19(1):

  1. 1 day of rest in each work week,
  2. 2 consecutive days of rest in each period of 2 consecutive work weeks,
  3. 3 consecutive days of rest in each period of 3 consecutive work weeks, or
  4. 4 consecutive days of rest in each period of 4 consecutive work weeks,

At least 4 consecutive days of rest after each 24 consecutive work days 19(2).

Employer may allow or require employee to work compressed work week, fewer work days with more hours of work at the employee's regular wage: 20(1). Compressed work week must be scheduled in advance and schedule must meet the following requirements:

  1. if compressed work week is part of a cycle, schedule must show all work weeks that make up that cycle;
  2. maximum hours of work employee may be scheduled to work in a work day is 12 hours;
  3. maximum hours of work employee may be scheduled to work in a compressed work week is 44 hours;
  4. if compressed work week is part of a cycle, (c) does not apply and maximum average weekly hours of work an employee may be scheduled to work in the weeks that are part of the cycle is 44 hours.
OVERTIME Overtime threshold is 8 hours on each work day: 21(a) or 44 hours weekly (b), whichever is greater. Employer must pay overtime at least one and one-half times regular rate for each hour in excess of threshold: 22(1). Does not apply if employee or employer entered into an overtime agreement: 22(2).

Employee or majority of group of employees may enter into an overtime agreement 23(1) as part of a collective agreement 23(1)(a), or if there is no collective agreement, in a written agreement between the employer or group of employees and the employer (b), providing time off in lieu of overtime pay.

An overtime agreement must be provided to each employee affected: 23(3) and include at least the following provisions 23(2):
  1. time off with pay at employee's regular wage instead of overtime, taken during time the employee could have worked;
  2. If no time off with pay is provided, employer will pay at least 1.5 times the employee's wage rate for the overtime worked
  3. time off with pay will be taken and paid within 3 months of end of pay period it was earned unless:

    1. the agreement is part of a collective agreement which provides for longer period within which to take time off with pay
    2. the Director issues a permit authorizing an agreement that allows a longer period within which to take time off with pay
  4. no amendment or termination of the agreement without at least 1 month's written notice by one party to the other.

If employee is paid wholly on commission or incentive, employee's wage rate for calculating overtime is the minimum wage prescribed by regulation: 24(1).

If employee is paid partly by salary and partly by commission or incentive, the employee's wage rate for calculating overtime: 24(2)

  1. is based on salary component of the wages if greater than minimum wage
  2. is deemed to be the minimum wage if salary component is equal to or less than minimum wage

Certain types of jobs are specifically exempted from the overtime provisions by way of regulation. For example, a person whose work is supervisory or managerial in character, is an extra in a film, or person employed as counsellor at non-profit or charitable camp for children. See AR 14/971 s 2 for full exemptions.

MINIMUM WAGE Employers required to pay minimum wage as prescribed by regulation AR 14/97 s9

As of September 1, 2013 general minimum wage rate is $9.95 per hour. AR 14/97 s9(a). There are exceptions to general rate for:
  1. Servers/bartenders, rate is $9.05 per hour;
  2. Direct sales, automobile and machinery sales, residential home, construction and equipment sales; and
  3. Homeworkers

Certain jobs are also exempt from minimum wage requirements: i.e. registered architects, accountants, lawyers, regulated permit-holding health care practitioners. See AR 14/97 s 2(2) for full exemptions.

EMPLOYMENT OF YOUTH No individual under 15 to work without parental consent: 65(2); no employment during normal school hours for individuals who are required to attend school under the School Act unless s.66 conditions complied with: 65(2)

Conditions of child's employment - individual must be enrolled in an off-campus education program provided under the School Act: 66.
HOLIDAY Employees are entitled to holiday with pay for: New Year's Day; Alberta Family Day; Good Friday; Victoria Day; Canada Day; Labour Day; Thanksgiving Day; Remembrance Day; Christmas Day and any other day designated by regulation as a general holiday: 25

Employee eligible if worked 30 days or more for the same employer within 12 months before the holiday: 26(1)

Pay must be at least average daily wage: 28

If employee works a holiday, employer must pay either the average daily wage and at least 1.5 times the hourly wage rate; or the daily wage rate and one day's holiday before the next employee's annual vacation: 29
VACATION Employers required to provide at least 2 weeks of vacation after each of first 4 years of employment: 34(a), and 3 weeks after 5 consecutive years of employment and each year after that 34(b)

Employer must give vacation in one unbroken period no later than 12 months after entitlement: 37(1).On employee request, vacation may be given in 2 or more periods as long as each vacation period is at least 1 day long: 37(2).
LEAVES OF ABSENCE MATERNITY - 15 weeks without pay starting at any time during the 12 weeks immediately before the due date 46(1), if employed for at least 52 weeks prior to commencement: 45. Employees required to give 6 weeks' written notice prior to leave: 47(1). If no prior notice given, employee still entitled if within 2 weeks after taking leave, employer is provided with a medical certificate: 48. Employer may give written notice to employee to start leave if pregnancy interferes with ability to perform duties: 49.

PARENTAL - 37 weeks if employee has taken maternity leave, 37 weeks if taking parental leave only, so long as employee has been employed for at least 52 weeks 50(1)(a) and (b), to begin within 52 weeks after child's birth; or in the case of an adoptive parent, after the child is placed with the adoptive parent for purpose of adoption 50(1)(c). Employer not required to grant simultaneous leave to employees as parents of same child and employed by same employer 50(3).

Employees are required to give 6 weeks' written notice prior to the leave, or written notice at the earliest possible time if (a) the medical condition of the birth mother or child makes it impossible to comply; or (b) the placement of the adoptive child was unforeseeable: 51(1) & (2)

RESERVIST - Employee entitled to leave without pay, after six months of employment, if a reservist to take part in the following activities: 53.2(1)
  1. deployment to a Canadian Forces operation outside Canada;
  2. deployment to a Canadian Forces operation inside Canada that is or will be providing assistance in dealing with an emergency or with its aftermath; or
  3. subject to regulations, annual training, including related travel time, for amount up to 20 days per calendar year
  4. operation or activity set out in regulations under subsection (7)

Employee must provide 4 weeks' written notice including the estimated date of resuming work or the actual date of resuming work: 53.2(4).

COMPASSIONATE CARE - if employed for 52 weeks, up to 8 weeks to provide care or support to a seriously ill family member (a spouse, parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child ) if the employee is the primary caregiver and a qualified physician provides a certificate stating that the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks or shorter: 53.9(2) and (3). Employee must provide 2 weeks' written notice to employer unless shorter period is necessary 53.9(4)

Employee can take up to 2 compassionate care periods up to 8 weeks in total, but the second period of leave must end no later than 26 weeks after the first period of leave began 53.9(6). No period of leave may be less than one week's duration 53.9(7).

TERMINATION/SEVERANCE Written notice of termination required after 3 months of employment 54. Notice requirement is: 56
  1. one week, if employed more than 3 months but less than 2 years,
  2. 2 weeks, if employed 2 years or more, but less than 4 years,
  3. 4 weeks, if employed 4 years or more , but less than 6 years,
  4. 5 weeks, if employed 6 years or more, but less than 8 years,
  5. 6 weeks, if employed 8 years or more, but less than 10 years,
  6. 8 weeks, if employed 10 years or more.

Instead of termination notice, employer may pay employee termination pay of the amount equal to wages if employee worked during the notice period 57(1). Or give a combination of termination notice and termination pay 57(2). If wages vary, the average wages for the 3 month period preceding termination date is used to determine termination pay 57(3).

Employee must give written notice to terminate employment of at least 1 week, if employed more than 3 months but less than 2 years, or 2 weeks if employed 2 years or more 58(1). Subject to exceptions, such as established industry practice for employment termination, for personal health reasons, or the contract of employment has become impossible to perform, exceptions outlined in 58(2).

TEMPORARY LAYOFF - employer may temporarily lay off the employee, but must pay the employee termination pay on the 60th consecutive day of temporary layoff: 62, 63(1). This does not apply if:

  1. By agreement between the employer and employee, after the layoff the employer pays wages or an amount in lieu, and termination pay is due when the agreement ends
  2. Employer pays into a pension or employment insurance plan for the benefit of the employee, and termination pay is due when the payments stop
  3. A collective agreement exists with recall rights for employees following layoff, and termination pay is due when the recall rights expire.

If employee fails to return within 7 consecutive days of being requested in writing by the employer, the employee is not entitled to termination notice or termination pay if the employer terminates employment: 64(1), subject to collective agreement with recall rights 64(2).

EXEMPTIONS Certain categories of employees are exempt from the provisions of the Act related to hours of work, overtime and records. These categories are prescribed by regulation AR 14/97 s 2, and are:

(1) (a) employees employed in

(i) supervisory capacity

(ii) managerial capacity, or

(iii) capacity concerning matters of confidential nature

(b) a salesperson who is entitled to receive all or any part of his or her remuneration as commissions in respect of offers to purchase or sales that, (i) relate to goods or services, and (ii) are normally made away from the employer's place of business.

(2) Registered and regulated members and practitioners of:

(a) architecture

(b) Accountant or student in training

(c)/(d) repealed

(e) chiropractic

(f) dentistry

(g) professional engineering or student in training

(h) law or student-at-law

(i) optometry

(j) podiatry

(k) psychology

(l) veterinary

(m) agrology

(n) denturism

(o) IT professional

Certain categories of employees are exempt from the provisions of the Act related to vacation. These categories are prescribed by regulation AR 14/97 s 4, and are:
  1. a salesperson who is entitled to receive all or any part of his or her remuneration as commissions in respect of offers to purchase or sales that, (i) relate to goods or services, and (ii) are normally made away from the employer's place of business.
  2. a real estate broker
  3. salesman registered under the Securities Act
  4. insurance agent
  5. extra in a film or video production

There are special rules/exemptions for farm or ranch employees AR 14/97 1.1


1. Employment Standards Regulation, Alta Reg 14/1997

This document is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking legal advice. This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any specific questions on any legal matter, you should consult a professional legal services provider.

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